Royal Garden from Israelite Palace Reveals Its Secrets

Bible and archaeology news

Archaeologists excavating a garden complex from an ancient Israelite palace at the site of Ramat Rahel just south of Jerusalem* have found new evidence for the plants and fruits that grew within its walls. Analysis of the plaster that clung to the garden’s walls revealed traces of embedded pollen from a variety of wild species and fruit trees, including the etrog tree. The etrog, or citron, is one of several species commonly associated with the Jewish festival of Sukkoth. The botanical evidence, discovered in a plaster layer from the Persian period (sixth– fourth centuries B.C.E.), marks the earliest occurrence of the etrog in Israel’s archaeological record.

Royal Garden from Israelite Palace Reveals Its Secrets

Archaeologists excavating a garden complex from an ancient Israelite palace at the site of Ramat Rahel just south of Jerusalem have found new evidence for the plants and fruits that grew within its walls.

 

* See Gabriel Barkay, “Royal Palace, Royal Portrait?” Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 2006.

Learn more about what was grown in the palace garden.

Gardens could be the most luxurious parts of ancient palaces, yet there is no archaeological evidence of the most famous example–the Hanging Gardens–at Babylon. Discover why archaeologists believe this World Wonder was actually located at Assyrian Nineveh.

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  1. Paul says

    This may be the place that Koholeth mentions in Ecclesiastes 2:5; “I laid out gardens and parks, in which I planted every kind of fruit tree.” The Hebrew word for parks, “paradisim,” is borrowed from Persian and it means “enclosed park” (see also Song of Songs 4:13). The term “paradeisos” is use in the Septuagint translation instead of “gan,” or garden in Genesis 2:8.
    A cryptic reference to this place may be referred to in the late 12th century C.E. mystical book, the Bahir, in which it comments in connection with the woman that was formed out of the man’s rib, or side, in Genesis 2:21:
    “A king had an idea to plant ten male trees in a garden. All of them were date palms. He said, ‘Since they are all the same kind, it is impossible for them to endure.’ What did he do? He planted an etrog among them. This was one of those which he had intended to be male” (“The Bahir” by Aryeh Kaplan, p.66).
    If this sounds absurd, it’s because this book circulated among Jews in Europe so that the knowledge of palm trees regarding male and female types was deficient since they are not native to Europe. The etrog, or citron tree, was introduced from India via Persia to this location, which was also the area in which 10 proto-aeolic capitals were found. These had the form of a palmette in which the palm fronds are not fully opened and they were on top of two pillars that flanked the entrances to royal palaces in Judah beginning in the late 8th century B.C.E.
    http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/proto-aeolic-capital-associated-with-judahs-longest-spring-tunnel/


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